Sizing up cycling’s benefits

2008-11-23 00:00

THERE is a feeling among people in the city that we don’t know what we are in for as far as the international BMX and mountain bike events in Pietermaritzburg next year are concerned.

To understand the scope, Msunduzi Municipality manager Rob Haswell attended the Roc d’Azur cycling festival, from October 9 to 12.

The purpose was to see what goes into the preparation, organisation, and staging of international cycling events, but he also assessed the impact of such events on the local economy.

Given that the city is hosting an MTB World Cup event in April 2009 and a BMX World Cup leg in August 2009, special attention was given to these two events.

The Roc d’Azur festival, in its 25th year, is held in the town of Freijus, about 60 km west of Nice, France, and attracted some 150 000 people, including 16 000 participants, and about 250 exhibitors.

Held at the end of autumn, the Roc d’Azur is a celebration of cycling in its many forms, with local families cycling to the event, along cycle paths, and mixing with international cycling stars.

The BMX World Cup comprises a number of events that are contested by elite international riders from various countries.

The Royal Showgrounds arena will be transformed into a championship BMX track for the August 2009 event.

Pietermaritzburg will also host the opening round of the 2009 Mountain Bike World Cup season on a track overlooking the Cascades Centre.

In participation terms, it means we may see as many as 90 trade and country teams entering the April event, amounting to 700 riders alone.

The city may not attract 150 000 people to either the BMX and MTB events, but it does have the facilities, the setting, the contacts, the expertise, and the local world-class riders, to ensure success.

These events represent significant marketing opportunities, and the municipality and the business community have an opportunity to put our city on the global map.

Durban daze

ONCE lauded as the country’s best-managed city, Durban has lost the plot and is floundering.

Evidence of its decline is visible in the management of its affairs, from the poor progress on the Point redevelopment, to the Blue Flag debacle, and the barely concealed antagonism among political parties in the eThekwini Metro.

The divide is especially pronounced in the street-naming fiasco that turned into a show of arrogance by the ANC and its cohorts, out to score a political point for the sake of it.

This is the kind of attitude and behaviour that is hard to forget, not to mention the inconvenience of a new set of street names that honour, among others, Che Guevara and Samora Machel. It’s not that they aren’t worthy of recognition, but as major Durban roads?

The other problem is that the new street names make giving directions very challenging.

Christmas cheer

LOCAL companies are urged to support the drive by Tessa Green-Mills, she of Training Solutions and Integrated Consultants (TSIC), in aid of the Pietermaritzburg Children’s Home.

All Green-Mills asks is for business and individuals to open their hearts and ensure that all 79 children have a Christmas worth celebrating.

To ensure that no superfluous or inappropriate gifts are bought, Green-Mills has divided the boys and girls into age groups.

Simply contact Green-Mills and she’ll do the rest.

Contact her at 072 719 6580, 033 387 2442 or by e-mail at tessamills@telkomsa.net or visit the website www.tsic.org.za

Diversity rules

THE annual open day hosted jointly by NCT and the South African Forestry Institute dealt with vegetation management in plantations, but also managed to put bio-diversity on the agenda.

To most, these are mutually exclusive notions and to a degree, they’re right. Credit then to NCT for taking it on the chin and, notwithstanding the role of forestry in the loss of bio-diversity, to discuss the topic openly.

There are some sobering truths to digest, such as the gradual homogenisation of bio-diverse regions that, in the ultimate analysis, impacts on the ability of plant life to deal with climate change.

Craft bazaar

FORMERLY known as the Echo Craft Bazaar, a new selling exhibition will be staged at Project Gateway for the first time this year.

Proceedings formally open on Wednesday, December 3 at Project Gateway, formerly the Old Prison in Pine Street.

Credit to Gail Cornhill of Spotted Owl Events and Promotions and craft expert Julia Buss for making the craft bazaar happen.

Parking is plentiful and safe on site, and visitors have the opportunity to explore the historic premises and sample some sustenance from the Old Prison Café.

Contact Cornhill at 031 785 1874 or 082 445 2577.

Last word

A STUDENT became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, the control tower asked, “What was your last known position?’

Student: “When I was number one for take-off.”

derekalberts@mweb.co.za

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